NBA Rumors: Dallas Mavericks Linked to Deandre Ayton, Could Package No. 10 Pick as Part of Roster Overhaul

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

The Dallas Mavericks had one of the most disappointing finishes in the NBA this season. Although “tanking” down the stretch appeared to be the Mavericks’ strategy, they dropped nine of 11, including their last two, to drop out of the 10th spot in the Western Conference and maintain the opportunity to keep their 2023 top-10 protected pick. The lottery balls ended up bouncing their way — there was a 20.2% chance that the Mavs fall out of the top 10 in the draft — and they maintained their 10th position. But now there are rumors that Dallas could package the pick as part of a major roster overhaul.

NBA Rumors: Dallas Mavericks Linked to Deandre Ayton, Could Package No. 10 Pick as Part of Roster Overhaul

“Some things (have) to change, for sure,” Luka Dončić said after the season’s final game.

Dallas has just eight players under contract for 2022-23 worth $108.67 million in salaries. The Mavericks project to have around $21 million in cap space, although they are expected to re-sign Kyrie Irving. Christian Wood, Dwight Powell, Justin Holiday, Markieff Morris, Theo Pinson, Frank Ntilikina, and McKinley Wright Jr. are the Mavericks’ other free agents.

Mavs Have “Handshake” Deal With Irving

The Mavericks have said they intend to re-sign Irving, who they acquired at the trade deadline from Brooklyn. Now, league sources believe a deal is essentially done to keep the cantankerous 31-year-old in Dallas, according to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus.

“I hear they had a handshake deal before the trade [with the Brooklyn Nets],” one source told Pincus. “And Kyrie wouldn’t have said yes to anything less than the max.”

Dallas owns Irving’s Bird rights. As a result, he is eligible for a five-year, $272 contract.

Irving was sensational in the 20 games after being traded with the Mavericks posting an 8-12 record. Irving averaged 27.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and just 1.7 turnovers while making 2.5 treys a game. The 6-2 point guard compiled a shooting slash line of .510/.392/.947. He also posted two double-doubles and scored 20 or more points 16 times, topping the 30-point mark on six occasions.

While another one of Pincus’ sources agreed that Irving would wind up back in Dallas. The source indicated that the price would be a  little more reasonable.

“I hear he’s going back to Dallas on a 3+1 [a player option on the fourth year]. His contract will line up [identically] with Luka’s.” one player agent told Pincus—which would total $210.1 million.

Luka Dončić is under contract through 2026-27 but has an opt-out before the 2025-26 season. Together, the pair would earn a combined $87 million combined, ramping up to $107 million if they both opt into their final years.

Should the Mavericks Sign Irving

It seems almost a sure thing that Irving will end up back in Dallas. This is Mainly because there doesn’t appear to be much of a market for him. The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly not interested in pursuing the 10-time all-star. While the 20 games are a small sample size, Doncic and Irving demonstrated they could be a dynamite duo. And if the Mavs ink Irving for the three-plus-one deal, it would make more sense for them than a max deal.

But the big question is can he and Doncic co-exist? Also, what do the Mavs do to surround them with better talent?

Dallas a Potential Spot For Deandre Ayton

Phoenix is rumored to be interested in making some roster moves after its second straight disappointing postseason finish. The Suns are expected to move Deandre Ayton this summer as part of the shakeup, and Dallas is one of the most apparent landing spots. The Mavs need a big man as Wood is unlikely to return, and Powell is better as a reserve than a full-time starter if he is even back with the Mavs.

Ayton’s agent, Bill Duffy, also represents Doncic. According to Pincus’ sources, Ayton and Doncic have a good relationship.

While inconsistency has plagued Ayton throughout his career, he is one of the best big men in the association. The 24-year-old center is coming off a solid campaign, averaging 18.0 points and 10 rebounds, marking the fifth consecutive season of averaging a double-double. However, he shot below 60.0% from the field for the first time in three years.

Ayton is fantastic around the rim and has developed into a reliable shooter inside the three-point line. He is also outstanding on the defensive glass and can rim-protect. But he is not great on the defensive end.

Another possible cause for concern about Ayton is his contract. Ayton is entering the second of a four-year, $132.92 million deal that he signed last summer. He is due $32.4 million this year.

What to Do With the No. 10 Pick?

Dallas worked hard to keep this year’s first-round choice. However, the Mavericks’ best bet to overhaul their roster is to package the pick with veterans to get someone who will fit with Doncic and Irving. Something that has been a rumored possibility since the lottery.

Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News proposed three trades that the Mavericks could use the No. 1o pick as part of a package that would bring them a big man or defensive wing that the Mavs desperately want. Ayton, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam are the three players Caplan mentioned, and all three make sense for Dallas.

Anunoby is one of the premier 3-and-D wings in the NBA. The 25-year-old versatile forward, a 2nd team All-Defensive selection in 2022-23, is a fantastic shooter and has averaged double-figures in each of the four seasons as a starter. He produced 16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and a league-leading 1.9 steals. Anunoby also canned 2.1 treys while compiling a shooting slash line of .476/.387/.838.

Siakam is a fantastic two-way forward who is one of the best scorers in the league. The 29-year-old big man set career highs with 24.2 points and 5.8 assists this past season. He also hauled down 7.8 rebounds and produced 24 double-doubles, including two triple-doubles.

Which Mavericks Are Most Likely to Be Involved in a Package?

With eight players under contract, Dallas doesn’t have many trade chips. But, according to Mark Stein, rival teams expect the package to include Tim Hardaway Jr., JaVale McGee, and Davis Bertrans. Or a combination of the three.

Working out a sign-and-trade deal with Wood is also a possibility. However, the Mavericks only have their 2027 first-rounder to include in the deal. Their 2025 pick is tied to the New York Knicks as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade. If next year’s first-rounder is conveyed to New York, the Mavs will get the 2025 pick.

After struggling in 2021-22, Hardaway re-found his shooting stroke from beyond the arc, tying a career-high three treys a game at a 38.5% clip. He scored 20 points on 20 occasions and averaged 14.4 points. Hardaway has two years and over $33 million on his deal.

McGee is a serviceable backup center that provides shot-blocking and rebounding. Bertran, known as a shooter, has seen his production slip since joining the Mavericks two years ago. He is nearly a 40% career 3-point shooter. Bertrand has an opt-out clause next year, while McGee has a player option.

Reggie Bullock, Josh Green, Jaden Hardy, and Maxi Kleber also be on the trading block. Bullock will be an unrestricted free agent next year. Meanwhile,  the Mavs would probably rather keep Green and Hardy, two of the team’s youngsters. Kleber is one of Doncic’s best friends.